Incubus' Brandon Boyd On Music, Imagination, And Moustaches

Tomorrow night, Incubus performs up in the Woodlands, flanked by Mutemath and Linkin Park for the 2012 Honda Civic Tour. On paper, it's a pretty odd lineup. But, at the suggestion of vocalist Brandon Boyd, we'll substitute the word 'odd' for another one: Eclectic.

As it stands, all three bands are getting the chance to play their music in front of a number of concert goers who have never before seen them perform. And as far as Boyd is concerned, that's an opportunity to be both seized and cherished.

"So far on this tour, even in places we've sold out on our own, we'll be playing songs into the audience and you can see lots of people who've never seen us play before, and it's a lot of Linkin Park's crowd," Boyd said.

"It's been kind of great, actually, to be able to play in front of a new audience for the first time in a long time. And, of course, it's great seeing familiar faces as well."

Incubus' latest release, last year's If Not Now, When?, is a very different album than the rest of the band's catalog. It's a far cry from the likes of Fungus Amongus, but even compared to 2006's Light Grenades, it was a big change.

"In certain ways, it was a lot like every other writing session we've had, and in other ways, it was entirely different than anything before," Boyd said of the album. "I've always wanted, in my best moments and my best of intentions, each one of our albums to be unique to the one that preceded it."

The feedback on Now? surprised Boyd, in a good way.

"The feedback has been really interesting, because it's been almost entirely positive," he said with a laugh, admitting that had come as a surprise. "Every album we've ever put out, we've always gotten the harshest criticism from our most hardcore listeners. And with this record, I was expecting the most critical feedback, and what was interesting is that it was overwhelmingly positive."

That disc is the band's first release since its members took a hiatus in 2008. While Boyd enrolled in art school in Los Angeles and began work on a solo record, guitarist Mike Einziger studied music at Harvard, and drummer José Pasillas focused on being a family man, having a baby and paying the mortgage.

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"In a lot of ways, it was like riding a bike. But we had a refueled bag of tricks, each of us," Boyd said of getting the band back together for the album. "I had finished mixing my solo record. So, in a lot of ways, lyrically and melodically, I felt like I had been lifting weights. I was ready to run a marathon at that point.

"We were anxious to make music (together), but it wasn't like we had just been sitting around. We had been doing creative and intellectual heavy lifting the whole time, so we were ready to make something new and really take some chances," Boyd said. "It was a big leap of faith."

Though Boyd may be best known for his music, he's an artist in other ways as well. He's published two books and is working on a third, and is a well-respected artist, too.

"I'm in something of an editing process for the untitled third book, and I'm hoping to get it out in the next year or so," he said. "There's a lot of visual expression that happens for me when we're on the road, and we have these long periods of down time between sound check and whatnot."

"In the '70s or '80s, it would be time consumed by doing blow off all imaginable surfaces, but that's not going on in this day and age," he added with a laugh.

His creative process for writing music is similar to that of his other art, but Boyd says there are subtle differences. "I think writing music, for me, is more difficult; or, I should say, more challenging. Which is probably why I pursued that more," he said. "It's not that I don't love visual art, but the actual challenge of writing music has been greater for me, so I've maybe pursued that one more head on.

"Visual art has become more and more challenging to me though, and my interest in that has been growing exponentially."

Boyd has been drawing since before he ever sang. And since he was a child, his artistry was supported.

"My mom was and is a painter, a writer and played music. And my father is a very creative person as well," he said. "For my brothers and I, they always provided a nurturing environment, where it was ok for us to draw on lots of different surfaces. And it seemed that there was always a pad, or pens or crayons for us to grab and express ourselves with."

The craziest places his mother let him draw?

"Probably on myself or on my brothers," he said. ""I remember very specifically that, when we were little kids, we would draw all manner of mustaches on each other, before we could grow facial hair. So there are all these pictures of my brothers and I with drawn on mustaches, which is pretty sweet.

"We were trying to look cool, man... That's what you're trying to do when you're, like, seven. You want a mustache, because mustaches are cool."

Damn straight.

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